What is Melatonin?
It’s is a hormone released by a small gland in your brain called the pineal gland that helps control your wake and sleep cycles. It has a distinct cycle which peaks during the middle of the night. It’s a potent antioxidant and immune stimulant. It also influences other hormones such as increasing human growth hormone (HGH) and thyroid hormone levels (by converting its hormones into the active forms). Low levels of melatonin could lead to sleep disturbances such as insomnia, poor immune function, depression and other mood disorders.
What affects melatonin?
The release of melatonin is stimulated by darkness and can be prohibited by light. It has an opposing effect cortisol. Which means that the rise in it’s levels directly correlates with a drop in cortisol levels.
What can cause low levels of melatonin?
- Increasing age
- Prolonged light phase of the day
- Exposure to bright lights or electromagnetic fields, including regular long haul flights
- Stress (especially if high cortisol)
- Excessive exercise at night
- Excessive caffeine, tobacco or alcohol
- Certain drugs
- High dose B 12 supplements
The relationship between melatonin and cortisol
As mentioned earlier melatonin has an opposing relationship with cortisol. This means that there is an opposite cycle between the levels of these two hormones.
Typically speaking, cortisol levels peak in the morning (corresponding to a decrease in melatonin) allowing us to wake up, get ready for the day. Cortisol levels gradually decrease over the course of the day into the afternoon, reaching its lowest in the late evening. This drop in cortisol allows melatonin levels to rise, helping us relax and go to sleep
What happens if you’re stressed?
If you’re really stressed throughout the day, your cortisol levels can be pushed higher than normal and this can cause melatonin to be released later. Which is why stress can be a contributing factor to low melatonin levels and disturbed sleep.
If you are struggling with getting a good night’s sleep, then check out our Sleep Right Program. Otherwise, book in for a FREE discovery call with me and we can chat about how I may be able to help. Looking forward to speaking with you!